Liberia’s 2011 Nobel Peace Prize winner, Madam Leymah Gbowee, has described the current situation in Liberia as dysfunctional.
Madam Gbowee says Weah’s Liberia is a country with poor governance. She maintained that President Weah and the Coalition of Democratic Change (CDC) government seem to have no control of happenings in the country. She spoke recently when she served as the prime speaker during the 6th National Convention of the Association of Liberian Journalists in the Americas (ALJA) held virtually.
The 2020 ALJA National Convention was held on the theme ‘’the Media, the rule of law and the culture of impunity. Madam Gbowee described the country’s governing philosophy as a “pregnant rat democracy” which bites and blows, with the country’s leaders showing no interest in the Liberian people except during elections.
She criticized the Liberian government for what she described as “entrenched corrupt practices and a culture of impunity” in the country. Madam Gbowee named human rights violations, a terrible health and educational system and lack of proper redress for its citizens as other challenges facing the government.
The Nobel Laureate said the Weah led government has demonstrated a total lack of interest in prosecuting crimes in the country including corruption noting that officials of government have neglected the rule of law and are instead focus on enriching themselves at the expense of the people.
The Gender Advocate said it was laughable that Finance Minister Samuel Tweh would be toying with the idea of making President Weah a benevolent dictator even as the country grapples with the current challenges.
Meanwhile, Madam Gbowee has criticized the Liberian media for being compromised. She claimed the media is doing little or nothing to expose the ills in the society. She accused the media of being in the pockets of politicians who pay them to distort the truth noting that they have “become guard dogs for the highest bidder”.
The Nobel Laureate noted that the adage “the pen is mightier than the sword” no longer holds true for the media with many journalists now diluting the truth in their reportorial duties.
In his state of the Association remarks delivered on the first anniversary of his election, the President of ALJA, Mr. Joe Mason renewed his organizations’ commitment to seeking opportunities for growth, capacity building and development of the media in Liberia.
Mr. Mason expressed concern that most Journalists in the country barely earn enough to make ends meet, a situation which poses serious threat to the country’s democracy which depends on an independent and uncompromising media for it to thrive and remain vibrant.
The ALJA boss said leaders of the country need to ensure that the rule of law applies equally to everyone and do away with the culture of impunity that is so pervasive if the country is to make progress.
Also speaking for the first time at the ALJA convention was Professor Amy Hewitt of the Institute of Community Integration at the University of Minnesota. She urged the media to not only accurately report on issues affecting the disabled but to modify their storytelling format for people with disabilities to avoid stereotyping them.
Dr. Hewitt said, media practitioners in Liberia must be knowledgeable about various conventions the government signed relative to human rights protection for individuals with disability and liaise with organizations engaged in working with the disabled community in order to spotlight their activities.
Another Speaker at the ALJA convention, Mr. Euriahs Togar, chairman of the Mass Communications Department at the University of Liberia revealed plans by the UL administration to offer specialized career options for communications student at the entity. Mr. Togar said such options would enable students at the department specialized in areas of communications with the sole purpose of changing the media landscape in Liberia and enable them meet current world realities.
On the issue of harassment, Mr. Togar said, the constant intimidation of journalists in Liberia by state security is alarming as he called for more collaboration with ALJA and other partners to professionalize the department of communications at the UL.
Other speakers at the ALJA 2020 virtual national convention were long time VOA correspondent, James Butty, the Co-founder of the Liberia Feminist Forum, Madam Caroline Bowah, Cllr. Cyril Jones of Louis Arthur Grimes School of Law at the University of Liberia and Liberia’ Ambassador to the United States, George Patten.